and eat!

Category Archives: Bike commuting

SWIM  Throughout the Fall, I was psyching myself up to do the New England Masters Short Course Yards Championship.  I was making it to practice regularly, feeling stronger, swimming faster, almost ready to fill in the entry form and BLAM.

1st storm

Let the shoveling begin!

Winter – like 3-feet-of-snow-winter – smacked me upside the head:  practices were canceled, my mom fell and I wanted to visit her more often (can’t blame winter but it caused a change to my workout schedule nonetheless).  Missed practices, stress, worry, vacation (well that was a good thing – I got to do an open water swim with a group in Barbados!).  Sure I still could have signed up for the meet and just done whatever I could, but competing is always a big deal for me.  It’s stressful enough – I don’t like feeling defeated before I even start.  So now I’m getting my swims in when I can and looking forward to the day when the ice melts and the snow goes away.  It’s officially Spring, and perhaps it will eventually feel like winter is over.  And thankfully, my mom is doing better!

Open Water Swim, Barbados

Carlisle Bay, in front of the Barbados Yacht Club

BIKE  Other than commuting and spin classes, not much going on in the bike department.  I went to the basement and visited my road bike the other day.  Actually touched it!  Even thought about pumping up the tires, but really, why bother?  They’ll be flat again by the time it’s warm enough to ride.  Soon?  Last year I got out in early April.  We’ll see.

[RUN – I don’t usually post a “RUN” section   I’m running again!  After taking a long time off (a year?), I’m giving it another try.  I’m hoping the exercises my chiropractor gave me will help my disc stays where it’s supposed to.  Could there be a sprint tri in my future?  Stranger things have happened.]

READ  I’ve read a bunch since I last posted.  The most recent memorable ones are  All the Light We Cannot See,  by Anthony Doerr, and Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.  Two VERY different books.  Both really well-done.

and EAT!  Lots of that going on, but nothing noteworthy, unfortunately.

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michelin-tire guy

how I feel on my commute

A friend of mine has a cut-off temperature for outside biking.  At one point it was 60 degrees, although she has been out in lower temps since she told me that.  I think she might have dropped the threshold a few points as she became a more experienced rider.  What’s my cut-off?  I’m not exactly sure, but I think we’re there!  I know I’m not happy riding in the 40s, and it snowed (ok, flurried) over the weekend.  Sure, I’ll continue to commute my 3-4 miles each way to work and swim, bundled up like the Michelin tire guy – unless it’s icy – but I am by no means hard-core enough to road ride through the winter.  Do you have a temperature range?

I did the Rapha Women’s metric century ride over the summer.  FUN!  There’s another one in December.  The Rapha Women’s Braver than the Elements Ride.  NOT SO FUN!  I won’t be doing that one – I’m really not braver than the elements.  I get cranky when my hands and feet go numb and turn funny colors.

So…

SWIM!  My last Walden Pond swim was on September 23rd.  It wasn’t awful in terms of being cold, but I could tell I was done.  I rejoined Cambridge Masters Swim Club and am happily (?) getting my ass kicked in the pool 3-4 times/week.  I need a push every few years – I was due.  I’m curious to see if my shoulders get bigger with the increased yardage and effort.  I’ll keep you informed.  I might even do a pool meet in the Spring.  Oh shoot, now that I’ve said that, I might actually have to do it.  Something I found out:  stroke workout right after spin class doesn’t work so well for me.  Swim fail!

BIKE!  See above.  No more outside riding for me.  I finished the season by joining some friends to do another metric century:  The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk on October 5th (early and chilly!).  It was my first benefit ride, and I hope to do it again next year.

Calhoun Cancer Challenge

first snack stop

It was a very well-supported ride through a scenic part of CT.  I got out for a few more rides after that, and now I’m adjusting to ~3-4 spin classes/week.  It might be time to put a crappy tire on my bike and set up my trainer, though.  There’s only so much “Maniac” and “Eye of the Tiger” that this former Deadhead can take.  I get gym class music stuck in my head and it stays there for days.  That can’t be healthy.

READ!  The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  Suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken away.  A Nation in Pain:  Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman (friend from Cambridge Masters).  This book explores chronic pain and how it is misunderstood and mistreated and a HUGE problem. It is accessible but still not a super easy read.  I might be working on this one for a while.  Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.  I just started it.

and EAT!  Fig and Pear Crumbles by Frugal Feeding.  Wow!  Next up:  something with apples since we just bought 3 bags of them at Clarkdale Fruit Farms while in Western MA for Cider Days in Franklin County.

 

bethel maine happy


Swim:  Results are up from the USMS one-hour swim.  I was 30th in the women’s 45-49 age-group.  Not bad.  Then we went on vacation (ahh, warmth – our winter escape from New England) and I didn’t swim for 2 weeks.  Wow, getting back in the water and moving with anything like speed or grace was tough.  It IMG_0141took me about a week to convince myself that this whole swimming thing was a good idea.  Then last week I swam 5 days in a row, so I think I can say I’m mostly back now.  Phew.  Sometimes I really wish that my favorite exercise did not involve being cold and wet.  I find that February and March are tough for me motivation-wise.  Do you have a time of year that’s hard for you?  I’m making myself go through the motions – go to gym classes, get to the pool, put one foot in front of the other… I’ll get there, I just hope it’s soon!

Bike:  We got home from vacation to deal with the aftermath of a blizzard.  We were actually delayed in Chicago a couple nights because we couldn’t get home.  So after 2 weeks of lazing in the sun in Baja, we had to shovel.  Or, more accurately, my husband ran the snow-blower while I unpacked and did laundry.  I shoveled a little…  ugh.  No bike commuting for a bit – the roads were too icy and narrow.    And after being away and warm, I’m having a tough time biking in the cold.  I rode (commuted, that is) in temps in the teens before vacation, but I think now it needs to be in the 20s at least!  Another month and I’m hoping to get out on my road bike for some real riding.  Spin classes just aren’t the same, but I’m trying to go at least twice/week.

Read:  The trashier the better while on vacation, right?!  I cruised through about 5 books while lying around the pool, none really worth remembering although Oxygen, by Carol Cassella, was pretty good and a little more substantive than say, Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven (which I think I read in a day).  If you’re into silly dog humor, Thereby Hangs a Tail is just plain fun.  Now I’m working on Freud’s Sister, by Goce Smilevski.  We’ll see how that goes.  Never mind that one:  couldn’t get into it.  Now I’m reading Swim:  Why We Love the Water, by Lynn Sherr.  Much better!

and EAT:  nothing compares w/fresh flour tortillas right from the tortilleria!  But that seems like a distant memory now, so I’ll have to console myself (and husband) with “kitchen sink” cookies.  AKA your basic toll-house chocolate chip recipe with other stuff that I find in the drawer.  This batch was by request with the following additions: molasses (back off a little on the sugar, and add maybe a couple Tablespoons molasses), white chocolate chips (so use fewer choc chips), dried cranberries, chopped nuts (walnuts were handy, sometimes I add pecans), some shredded coconut.  Yum.  I better get back into my exercise routine or I’ll be in trouble!


A while back I bought Bikeglow bike lights using a Groupon.  I thought it seemed like a pretty cool lighting system – fun, festive, bright, great color choices.  I don’t ride a ton in the dark but I do commute year-round (unless it’s too snowy or icy), and for a couple months in the winter it’s dark for my ride home.  And there are some rare occasions when I go to an early gym class or swim practice before the sun is fully up.

Bikeglow

New package of Bikeglow lights

What it is:  Read the website if you want the technical details.  It’s like a long filament that you wrap around your bike frame, with a battery pack that needs to be affixed somewhere.  That somewhere is typically under your seat.  The pack takes 2 AA batteries, and when it’s tucked and secured under the seat you won’t know it’s there.  Keep in mind that you need to be able to access the pack to turn the lights on.  There’s a small button on the side of the pack.  There are 3 settings:  steady on, fast blink, and slow blink.  Somebody told me I looked like my own little disco party when I was stopped at a light.  Interesting, for sure, but at least I was visible!

bikeglow on my bike

bikeglow on my frame – the picture doesn’t show how bright it really is.

Waterproof!  This has been proven, since I get stuck in the rain sometimes and the lights continue to work.

Downside:  Not so great in extreme cold.  I couldn’t figure out why my bikeglow stopped working when I was biking home one night in temperatures in the low teens (F), but was fine after a night in the garage.   I contacted the company (after checking the batteries, of course!).  The customer service person responded right away, but hadn’t heard anything about the unit not working in the cold.  They’re in Santa Cruz, CA – what do they know about cold?!  I quickly received another email saying that yes, very cold temperatures will interfere with bikeglow’s function.  Luckily I rarely ride in temps THAT cold (and have other lights anyway, they’re just not as fun).

Recommend?  Overall I’ve been happy with my Bikeglow lights.  And their customer service is excellent.



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